Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Julie Anne Long "The Perils of Pleasure" & A Book GIVEAWAY

Is it possible I could love this book more than Like No Other Lover (which I forced my entire, non-romance-reading book club to read.) The only bittersweet part of reading this book was knowing that I had used up some of my best superlatives on her other book. Well, that and the back cover, WTH?

Madeleine Greenway is hired to orchestrate Colin Eversea's escape from the gallows. He was to be hung by the neck until dead for murdering someone in a pub who insulted his sister. He is innocent, of course, and once he's free the person who hired her tries to kill her instead of paying her, giving her an incentive to help him prove his innocence and try to recover her fee.

Julie Anne Long can write herself some damn fine characters. Her prose is slightly more restrained in this book than in Like No Other Lover and I would dare to say this plot is just a hint leaner than the other as well. Making this one of the finest books I've ever read.

And since you've probably either read about or guessed my penchant for well recounted infatuation, I'll point out that she is the master in this department as well.

Historical Romance 2008: 5 of 5 'masculine problems.'

Now about the book give-away. Because, as I mentioned above, I forced my book club to read a romance novel, and because I was feeling guilty about it and because I therefore bought a few extra copies of Like No Other Lover since the library's were mostly out.....I'm hereby spreading the joy these books have brought me and offering two (used) copies of Like No Other Lover by Julie Anne Long to two randomly selected commenters on this post. Deadline is midnight, April 7th, a week from today. Go crazy.

And in case you're interested, an excerpt:

"Could anyone have been hurt today?" he faltered. "The explosions..."
"No," she said coolly. "Not from the explosions alone, anyhow. They were low explosives, meant for loud noise and smoke only. ....set off by very strategically placed boys , paid out of my pocket, ... and all for your benefit, Mr. Eversea. I don't suppose we can discount a turned ankle or a fit of apoplexy in the crowd ...but other than that..."
"Or a trampling," Colin added with dark irony. "Can't discount a trampling."
"Your concern for the thousands of people who came out to cheer as you died horribly is touching, Mr. Eversea."
"I don't think they all came to rejoice in the event."
"I wouldn't be too certain," she said tartly.

And this for some perverse reason made him smile. She wasn't any happier to be here with him than he was to be with her. And she was so very ready to volley, and good at it. He'd wanted a conflict; she'd given it to him and he felt as though he'd spent himself in a good tennis set.

"You really don't exert yourself to charm, do you, Mrs. Greenway?" he mused easily.
"Charm, Mr. Eversea, will cost your family an additional ten pounds if and when I return you alive and whole."
"I should like to see the menu of available services , then, if you please."
He turned back to her just in time to see her smile crack like lightning. It was dazzling, genuine, a thing of natural beauty. [sic] Seconds later it occurred to him both that he was gaping and that he should probably breathe again.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Cathy Maxwell "Temptation of a Proper Governess"

Uninspiring. The first half of this book was just completely un-engaging. The governess heroine agreeing to undo a stranger's pants when he finds her in his bedroom because of an inexplicable attraction after protecting her virtue against all odds and knowing what it's like to be a young woman on her own with shaky prospects. The hero refuses to marry her to save her reputation but will marry her after he finds out she is the illegitimate daughter of his nemesis. And it takes his best friend to point out that this might be a difficulty in their future wedded bliss once she finds out. Yawn.

After the expected break in trust scene, the characters began to act more like humans and a book I was really struggling to read became less painful. Not riveting or exciting, but not horrible either.

Historical Romance 2004: 2 of 5 murdered slutty dancers.

Painting: The Governess by Jean-Baptiste Simeon Chardin

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Baby Animals and Nekked Man

Thanks to Katiebabs and the NYTimes I now know there are ten rules for blogging and two secrets to gaining traffic.

I took the following from the article, I can be colloquial (thank god) and I need more pictures of cute animals and half nekked men. Cool.

This seems like a good time to admit an embarrassing secret love for the movie 300. And I'm further ashamed to admit it wasn't the half nekked men (oh that helped) but the warriors against all odds that sucked me in. What can I say?

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Lara Adrian 'Veil of Midnight'

As you have probably guessed from my last review, I liked Veil of Midnight, book five in the Midnight Breed Series.

I'm a total sucker for ass-kicking heroine's (see above title picture), although I seem to be more addicted to the movie versions of said, than the literary versions. Something about this genre works so well for me in the visual and works less well for me in the written. Enough about me....

Renata is another orphan who has gotten snared in the world of vampires when a nasty Gen One picks her up for a little human-hunting party. In the process she inadvertently uses her unique telepathic anti-vampire power. So the Gen One decides not to kill her, but to use her as a body guard.

Nikolai is one of the Breed warriors whose been sent to alert the Gen One in Montreal that some one is offing Gen One's lately in the vampire world. He finds out that this particular Gen One is pretty yucky, things go south and he and Renata gang up to clean things up.

With such a stereotypical character framework these two are enjoyable and distinct. Good read.

Paranormal Vampire 2008. 4.5 of 5 glimpses of the future in a small child's eyes.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Lara Adrian 'Kiss of Midnight'

Let's get the obvious out of the way, this series bears a striking resemblance to JR Ward's big bad vampire brotherhood. If you can't get over that, I'll understand, but for my money, this is an enjoyable well scripted book. I'll admit that I read Veil of Midnight (book 5) first, liked it enough to find the first book, Kiss of Midnight, and now here I am.

Lucan Thorne is one of the first generation of vampire (savages from another world) and human offspring. He killed his own father, than organized the other Gen One's into an army to rid the earth of these original vampires who were wreaking havoc on the human race. Now, a couple of centuries later, he's the head of a cell of warriors who police their own kind for vampires gone rogue, those who've given into blood lust and feed on human's without care.

Gabrielle is a photographer in Boston. She has a strange ability to fend off vampire mind control. She goes to a dance club with some friends and can't understand why no one else thinks the whole thing is a little off. When she witness's a pack of rogues killing a man outside the club, she is well and truly ensnared and it just a matter of whether Lucan or the Rogues will get to her first....

I gave this book some extra credit points for the fact that I liked it after reading another one in the series. In other words, I often have trouble distiguishing among the big alpha males and the perfect warrior companions in these types of series'. So, give the author credit, these characters are at least distinct from one other couple in the warrior cell. :)

SPOILER ALERT: I will say that Lucan's 'I'm so horrified by the idea of loving you.' attitude got a little (a lot) old. And the scene where he finally drinks from her felt kind of yucky, should vampire rape concern us??

Overall, I have been disappointed by a few of the paranormal alpha male brotherhood books out there and this one I liked a lot. It seems like a good idea to read this one first, but at least book 5 was easy to read out of order.

Vampire Romance 2007: 4 of 5 vertically slitted pupils.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Patricia Briggs 'Bone Crossed'

This is book four in the much touted Mercy Thompson series. Mercy is a coyote shape shifter, her boss was a fae metalworker (who sold her his auto repair garage), she was raised by werewolves, her neighbor is the Alpha for the local werewolf pack and her favorite customer is a vampire.

I'm not sure I can objectively review this book. I've been well and truly sucked into the Mercy Thompson fan club so telling you that the fourth installment in her story is really, really good, probably won't mean a lot. I can say that the plot clips along as usual and Mercy continues to be a ridiculously decent person. I do wonder when she is going to go into full system shut down with all the trouble she keeps digging up, but then I don't want the stories to end any time soon, so....

If by some chance you haven't read any of the Mercy Thompson books, and you like fantasy at all, even remotely, pick up Moon Called. You won't be disappointed.

Spoiler Alert: I like Stephen and thought Mercy was a bit hard on him with the killing innocents thing, but why are all these boys still pining for her as she and Adam solidify things?? And was Amber just a little too convenient of a character?

Fantasy Novel 2009: 4.5 of 5 animated corpses.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Julie Anne Long 'Ways to Be Wicked'

Finally! The long awaited, "Next To Be Reviewed" book that you've been on tenterhooks waiting for. (Did everyone know that word is tenterhooks and not tenderhooks? Am I the only one whose been hearing and saying that wrong for the last twenty years? Man.)

So Sylvie Lamoureux is a famous ballerina in Paris. But as a child she was separated from her sisters and when she gets a clue that one of them is in London, she puts her career and lover on hold to find her. Sylvie has some setbacks on her way and ends up having to ask for asylum from ne'er-do-well man-about-town Tom Shaughnessy. He agrees to hire her as a bawdy dancer, for which Sylvie is not entirely grateful. Tom is planning a new venture, has collected several wealthy backers and finds himself strangely attracted to Sylvie despite his vow to not touch the dancers who work for him. Sylvie is biding her time until her sister returns from her honeymoon abroad and of course, is strangely attracted to Tom as well.

I liked this book, the sex was a bit slim, but the conflict was believable, and the characters likable. But I did put this book down for almost three months without any difficulty. And so I really can't with concience say I loved it.

Historical Romance 2006: 3.5 out of 5 pas-de-deux.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Shannon Drake 'The Pirate Bride'

The Pirate Bride, hm. I'm just now thinking about the title of this book and realizing it has nothing to do with the story. Do authors lack control over the titles like they do over the covers?

I digress. Let me first admit that my favorite romance novels in my first blush of youth were ship board romance novels. The heroine stows away as the cabin boy and is discovered by the swashbuckling captain. Even though she's betrayed his trust, he can't stay away from her, and she slowly wins the crew over with her gentle sweet ways. I don't know how silly those books were since I have quite purposely not revisited them. But my sensibilities are a bit different now. So when I saw this book at the library it was with some trepidation and nostalgia that I picked it up.

I'll start with what I liked. The set up that gets these two together. She's captaining a pirate ship, he's captaining a merchantman. She comes upon him and his ship is clearly outclassed. Instead of getting all his men killed he proposes single combat. She agrees (disguised as a male pirate by the way) and she loses, narrowly. She gets to take half his goods, keep him prisoner for ransom and the rest of his men sail away.

He is the one who wiggles his way into the good graces of her crew. He figures out she's a woman pretty quickly, they pursue the dastardly man who killed her family, in the process she and he get washed over board in a storm, and come ashore on a deserted island. Another ship broke up in the storm and trunks and barrels keep washing up on shore making their stay quite comfortable, leaving them time to mess around.

I could have loved this book, but what I didn't like....well, there's a point in the book when you finally realize how ridiculous it is to think that after killing a notorious pirate, she took over his ship as THE CAPTAIN. I've been around sailors my whole life and I'm well aware that I don't know how to sail, much less captain a schooner. But in a romance, you could call that a technicality. What really bugged me was the convoluted escape/rescue plans. I've been reading a lot of Patricia Briggs lately and one of the things she does so well is the plots of rescue, revenge, and staying alive when someone wants to do you harm. The characters think through their actions and assess their risks realistically given the parameters of the fictional world they inhabit. I didn't feel that sort of clarity when it came to the action part of this book, and as a result of these characters making unclear/silly choices, I lost affection for them. Does that make sense?

Overall, good start, great middle, falls apart for me in the end. If you are dieing for a pirate book that doesn't involve old school rape, this might sate your appetite.

Historical Romance 2008: 2 of 5 good hearted whores.